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Roles and relationships

A child's roles and relationships

Sometimes a child can take on carer roles when their parent has a mental health issue. Sometimes these roles and responsibilities are beyond what a child’s age and experience equips them to do.

Tasks that a child may assume include:

  • helping a parent take medication
  • anticipating and managing stressful situations for their parent
  • caring for younger siblings
  • shopping, cooking and cleaning
  • paying bills and managing budgets
  • providing emotional support for their parent
  • calling police, ambulance, extended family or other supports for the parent
  • watching over their parent to stop them hurting or killing themselves.

Sometimes a child’s sense of pride and identity is linked to the way they are caring for their family. Ensure this is acknowledged and valued rather than diminished and devalued.  It may be more helpful for you to work together with the family to find ways to make any necessary changes.  Help them to connect with family, community and support services. Support the child to connect with other young carers: Carers QLD Young Carers Support Services.

Watch parts from the following video (from 1 minute to 6 minutes 27 seconds) to see the story of 13 year old John who has been helping care for his mum since he was 5. Hear from John’s mother Francesca on her feelings about her son John supporting her as a carer (from 22 minutes 50 seconds to 24 minutes to 15 seconds).

How do parents feel about being cared for by their children?

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